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Roasted Pumpkin Soup
By Charlie Burke

Click here for printer friendly version of this recipe

Last week, we traveled above Franconia Notch, New Hampshire and found the
foliage was not only at its peak, but also the most spectacular we have ever
seen. Through swirling mists, incredibly intense reds and oranges among the
yellow leaves made some of the mountains appear to be on fire!

As always happens in New England, a mix of subtle changes – shorter days,
crisper temperatures, and changing colors – are signs that fall, considered by
many natives our most beautiful season, has arrived. Summer crops are nearly
spent as we welcome the new apple crop, cider and fall squash and pumpkins,
along with the scent of the first fires in our stoves.

While picking up some apples at
Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton, NH, I noticed a
box of just picked “sugar pumpkins” in an apple crate. These small pumpkins
are also called pie pumpkins because they are just the right for that purpose (or
to give to a little one for Halloween).

It was cool and rainy, so soup seemed more appropriate than pie that day. The
pumpkin was cut into halves, the seeds scooped out, and then both seeds and
the pumpkin were baked. This serves two purposes: the flavor of the pumpkin
is intensified by baking, and the onerous task of peeling is avoided. The seeds
make a tasty snack and, in this recipe, add a nutty garnish to the soup.

Approximately 8 cups:

1 small pumpkin
Kosher or sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 cups water, more or less
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
¼ cup coarsely ground roasted pumpkin seeds

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the pumpkin and cut it into top and bottom
halves. Scoop out the seeds, separating them from the fibrous material holding
them, and season them lightly with salt. Lightly oil the surfaces of the pumpkin
and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and the cumin. Place the halves, cut sides
up, and the seeds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the pumpkin until it
a knife penetrates easily and the surface is lightly browned. Remove the seeds
as they brown; use a spice grinder to coarsely grind 1/3 cup of the seeds to
yield approximately ¼ cup.

Scoop out the flesh and place it into a blender, a cup at a time. Add a small
volume of water and process until smooth (cover the top with a dish towel).
Continue until all the pumpkin is smoothly blended.

In a bowl, add the allspice and cumin and whisk in the water and cream, if
using, until the desired consistency is reached. Add more salt, pepper or cumin
to taste. Serve hot, garnished with a sprinkle of the roasted pumpkin seeds.

This can be made a day or two ahead, in which case the cream should be added
when it is reheated.     

This soup has the taste of fall and makes a great way to start a dinner for guests,
but it is simple enough for family fare. Consider taking the kids to a local farm
or farmers market so that they can connect their food with its source and get
their Halloween pumpkins at the same time. Try to take the back roads to enjoy
the foliage; like summer, it will be gone before we know it.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
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Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Photo by Charlie Burke
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